Published 6/4/2012 in Beef Empire Days-Industry
By SHAJIA AHMAD
The 2012 Mary M. Hopkins award winner was an early advocate of the beef industry from the very start.
“In his early years, he was a beef promoter from the beginning, participating in one of the first Beef Emipre Days cookoff contests,” said Ray Purdy, a resident historian of BED who presented the volunteer service award to Larry Jones, a Finney County commissioner, during an awards dinner and banquet Saturday night at the Clarion Inn.
The volunteer service award named in honor of Hopkins, a late, lifetime director of BED, is intended to recognize the “volunteer spirit, hard work and dedication of longtime beef industry and community volunteers.”
Purdy, an inaugural winner of the same award, told Saturday’s crowd that Jones, a southwest Kansas native born in 1951, grew up on a farm and ranch outside Holcomb and is, today, a third-generation owner and partner in a diversified cattle feeding and farming operation. In addition, the Kansas State University graduate of 1973 and former board president of BED has been a lifelong advocate of beef industry-related organizations and agencies from a local to national level. He has been involved in the Kansas Livestock Association and the Kansas Beef Council, as well as the USD 363 Board of Education, local chamber of commerce and county commission.
“I wasn’t ready for this,” Jones told Saturday’s crowd while making his way up to the stage to receive a traveling bronze sculpture that is awarded to the recipient for one year until a new recipient is named the following year.
Like Jones, many of Beef Empire Days’ own were honored and recognized during the annual awards banquet, where more than 100 gathered to enjoy a steak dinner in the spirit of Finney’s County celebration of the beef and cattle industries.
As in previous years, the night was characterized by the traditional awards to champion cattle in the live and carcass contests and longtime volunteers, in addition to budding youngsters in the agriculture industry.
Ian Shann, who works in research and development at Tyson headquarters in Springdale, Ark., judged this year’s BED Carcass Show and told the feedyard operators and cattle owners that the steers and heifers he judged were some of the most “magnificent” he’s seen.
“It’s really incredible to see the cut-ability and quality combination from the cattle selection,” Shann said. “My congratulations to all of you all. Thank you for having me in Garden City and allowing me to help out with Beef Empire Days. It’s been a great joy.”
Several BED board members — 14 in all — were asked to stand and be recognized Saturday by Bobby Nix, board president and a Pfizer Animal Health representative who emceed the evening event.
“Without the board members, this whole event would not take place,” Nix told Saturday’s crowd at the Clarion ballroom.
Seven graduating high school seniors also were recognized Saturday night as Beef Empire Days scholarship winners for 2012: Carl Clawson, Englewood; Britni Ruest, Texhoma, Okla.; Skyler Glenn, Holcomb; Emily Bayouth, Liberal; Hannah Speer, Dighton; Caitlyn Horton, Kendall; and Joshua McKinney, Englewood. Each was awarded $500 for the upcoming year.
A media intern with the BED festivities, Alyssa Heitschmidt also was presented a $2,000 scholarship for her services this year.
Other past recipients of the Hopkins award include: Darinda Gerber, Garden City, 2011; Stan Fansher, Garden City, 2010; Gale Seibert, Garden City, 2009; Barbara Oringderff, Garden City, 2008; Bill Hogan, Garden City, 2007; Dave Schafer, Manhattan, 2006; Dale Gillen, Garden City, 2005; Don Good, Manhattan, 2004; and Purdy, 2003.
Hopkins was the first secretary/treasurer for Beef Empire Days upon its incorporation in 1974. She became a lifetime director of BED’s board of directors in 1991 after having served continuously since before incorporation. The late director was involved in BED celebrations from 1969 to 2002. The organization gives the Mary Hopkins Award for Volunteer Service every year in her honor.
A team from Rafter JB Ranch also was recognized at the banquet for their first-place finish at this year’s Ranch Rodeo, held Friday at the fairgrounds. Team No. 2 from Poky Feeders also was recognized for their first-place finish in Thursday’s Cattle Working Contest.
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